One of the most persistent water cooler topics in the Twins Cities over the last few years has been this: “Should the Twins put a roof on their new outdoor stadium?”
On the Opening Day of the Twins season, Jay Wiener at the online news publication MinnPost (anyone reading it?) had some typically insightful reporting on this subject. The crux of his analysis:
So, including today, since 1961, that’s seven home openers out of 48 — or about 15 percent – that would have been problematic. But, if Opening Day were pushed each time beyond April 15, it looks like all but one of those snow/rain/cold days would have been avoided.
Interesting. But if these are the data the Twins used for their their roof decision, their analysis was incomplete. To me, the sales loss associated with going lidless goes beyond ACTUAL weather cancellations. Losses also will be associated with something else, the consumer’s perception that there is a constantly LOOMING THREAT of weather cancellations, or, just as importantly, a miserable experience.
After all, in marketing consumer perceptions about the product matter more than the actual product attributes. If buyers are convinced Yugos are lemons, it doesn’t really matter all that much if the reliability data actually tells a different story. And if Twins fans are convinced that the chances of cancellation or a bad experience are high, it really doesn’t matter if the weather data tell a sunnier story.
For this reason, I hope the roof decision was viewed through the prism of surveys and focus groups deeply probing consumer perceptions and concerns about weather, not just historic weather charts. The number of Opening Day weather-related cancellations is interesting and partially relevant, but it strikes me you have to go much deeper into consumer angst about Minnesota weather.
• APRIL/SEPTEMBER BOYCOTTS. How many families will boycott individual tickets in April and September in anticipation of the higher liklihood for cancellations and bad experiences?
• PREEMPTIVE DOWNSIZING. How many families will opt for PARTIAL season ticket packages, rather than FULL season packages, in order to avoid the weeks when the perception is that cancellations and bad experiences are likely?
• FROZEN OUT. How many families ultimately will not renew their ticket packages with the memory of a miserable experience(s) frozen into their brain?
• NON-METRO NO SHOWS. How many non-metro Twins fans and their families will eliminate or severely limit their Twins road trips because a multi-ticket forfeiture due to a weather cancellation seems too possible to risk the cash?
OK, I realize the following “analysis” is ridiculously back of the envelope. But I kinda sorta have a real job, so this is the best I can do between conference calls and emails. Here goes: If the Twins stadium is used for 30 years, the $200 million cost of a roof spreads out to about $6.6 million per year. Let’s say the average amount a fan dumps at the park per game — tickets, food, beer, trinkets — over those 30 years is $75. I have no idea if this number is reasonable, but remember MLB inflation rate is not exactly the same as the normal inflation rate. Given all that, it would take the loss of just 88,000 fans over 81 home games per year (3.4 million total annual capacity in the new stadium) to justify the cost of the roof.
For all of the aforementioned reasons related to consumer weather-related perceptions, might that be possible?